- The Washington Times - Monday, June 29, 2009


Sectarian clashes kill one, wound two

BEIRUT | Sunni supporters of Lebanon’s prime minister-designate and Shi’ite rivals from the parliament speaker’s political faction traded gunfire in a Beirut neighborhood Sunday.

Security officials said a woman was killed and two other civilians were wounded in the first outbreak of violence since contentious elections earlier this months.

Lebanese troops cordoned off the Aisha Bakkar neighborhood in the capital’s Muslim sector and deployed in force to restore calm Sunday evening, security officials said on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. They said the victim was a 30-year-old woman shot outside her home.

The fighting was between supporters of Saad Hariri, a Sunni who leads the parliamentary majority, and rival followers of the Hezbollah-allied Shi’ite parliament speaker Nabih Berri.

Mr. Hariri was named Saturday to become the next prime minister after his pro-Western coalition defeated the Hezbollah-backed alliance. It was not clear what sparked the gunfight Sunday, but tension had built up in the neighborhood after celebrations by Hariri supporters, who set off fireworks upon the announcement that he was named as prime minister.


Brasilia discloses first swine flu death

SAO PAULO | Brazil had its first death from the H1N1 influenza, or swine flu, Sunday, after a 29-year-old man succumbed to the virus, which he picked up in Argentina, the health ministry said.

He first showed symptoms June 15 while on a trip to Argentina, which has had several flu-related deaths. He returned to Brazil on June 19 and was admitted to a hospital the next day, where he was confirmed to have the H1N1 virus.

The ministry has in recent days warned Brazilians against traveling in Argentina and Chile. It said the total confirmed cases of the flu had reached 627 in Brazil.

Officials expect further deaths as the virus spreads during the winter, which began a week ago in the Southern Hemisphere.

The World Health Organization says 114 countries have confirmed cases of H1N1.


President’s slaying overshadows vote

BISSAU | The unsolved killing of the country’s democratically elected president cast a long shadow over Guinea-Bissau as only small numbers of voters headed to the polls Sunday to choose their next leader.

At polling stations in the capital, there were no lines. The few voters who came walked away almost immediately, their pinkies dabbed in ink.

“I have a lot of friends who voted in the last elections. But they are not voting today. They’ve left Bissau, even gone abroad, because of fear of what might happen,” said Abel Gomes, 32, who did vote. “They just aren’t interested anymore. Because once you kill a democratically elected president, you kill some part of democracy.”

President Joao Bernardo “Nino” Vieira was killed March 2 in front of his wife by men wearing army uniforms. In the 35 years since its independence from Portugal, the nation of 1.5 million has experienced numerous coups, countercoups and a civil war. But the violent death of Mr. Vieira has left many shaken and deeply discouraged.

No one has been arrested in the killing. In the campaign leading up to Sunday’s vote, one of the 12 candidates running for president was shot dead by security forces. The government later said he was plotting a coup, although the man’s family adamantly denied that.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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